“Some people call it the Babushka doll, but in fact its called the Matryoshka doll!” a line taken from the stage show Origins, where we look at bringing life sized dolls to the theatre, inspired by the comedy performance work of Ennio Marchetto (seen right and below.) The show ‘Origins’ explores many different cultures and looks at what has created our stories and ideas. Today we are blogging about Russia, the home of the Matryaoshka doll! We find the origins of these many layered elaborately decorated dolls interesting, as we look closer there is more than meets the eye.
The first Russian nested doll set was carved in 1890 by Vasily Zvyozdochkin and designed by Sergey Malyutin, who was a folk crafts painter, a Russian industrialist and patron of arts. Sergey Melyutin painted the doll set, it consisted of eight dolls, the outermost was a girl in a traditional dress holding a rooster. The inner dolls were girls and a boy, and the innermost a baby. Their inspiration came from a doll from Honshu, the main island of Japan, describing it as either a round, hollow daruma doll or a fukuruma nesting doll, portraying a portly bald old Buddhist monk. The name Matryona or Matriyosha was a very popular female name in Russia, it was derived from the Latin root ‘mater’ which means ‘mother’.
Matryoshka dolls have many different themes, traditionally themes from tradition or fairy tale characters. Today modern artists create many new styles of nesting dolls, including floral, Christmas, Easter, religious, animal collections, portraits and caricatures of famous politicians, musicians, athletes, astronauts, robots, and popular movie stars.
The number of dolls in the set can range from 5 – 30, we find the beautiful thing about these dolls is that they are each made from the same block of wood, in order to create a proper fit, as different pieces of wood would have unique expansion-contraction characteristics and moisture content.
Matryoshkas are also used metaphorically, as a design paradigm, known as the “matryoshka principle” or “nested doll principle”. Similar to the onion metaphor the relationship of “object-within-similar-object” that appears in the design of many other natural and crafted objects; this alongside the fantastic inspirational work of Ennio Marchetto led to our human sized doll scene in the show with its commical dance routine and reveal!
We hope you enjoy our human sized Matryoshka doll and the backdrop for the Russian doll theme, also created by the Makeubelieve team, do svidaniya for now!